You know how sometimes you just – quick! snap a photo, and then it takes you down a rabbit hole? I was recently in a market in Fuling, China (that was the big trip I posted about preparing for last month), eagerly photographing the displays of produce, and got this shot:
We’d been served this vegetable at meals several times previously. It’s clearly cauliflower, but not a variety I was familiar with – all loose and lacy, with lots of delicate stem.
So I got back, and recovered from jet lag, and was casting around for a topic for today’s post, and remembered the cauliflower. What the heck was that? It took a little google-fu to get started – “Asian cauliflower” just provides recipes, but “Asian cauliflower varieties” began to yield results.
Anyway, to make a long search short, I believe this is a broccoli-cauliflower hybrid developed by a Japanese seed company, called Karifurore, Fioretto, or Biancoli. It’s probably available in the U.S. at certain high-end markets (or in California) but I hadn’t encountered it before. I’ll keep an eye out! You can also find seeds for it by searching one or more of those names (Johnny’s and Burpee have seeds, and I’m sure other companies as well). It sounds like it has a fairly short growing season (60 days to maturity) and so would be a good plant to try in our crazy temperature-variable springs and falls.
Here are some articles about Karifurore:
Apparently a new product is soon to arrive on grocery shelves (you may have already had it in restaurants): Caulilini. Unlike Karifurore, this one isn’t hybridized with broccoli but is all cauliflower, though I don’t know how that works out genetically since the two are so close anyway. (Also I am finding the name very difficult to say. It’s a take on Broccolini, introduced by the same company, but more of a tongue-twister.) Here is the announcement from last summer if you want to read about it. Don’t know if we’ll be able to grow this one for a while, though.
Here’s to beautiful Chinese markets and cauliflower rabbit holes! Cheers, enjoy your Karifurore.
By Erica Smith, Montgomery County Master Gardener